Marsden Fund awards $59 million for research

‘Can plants get sunburnt?’, ‘how and when does cooperation develop in infants?’ and ‘how has religion shaped Kiwi attitudes?’

These intriguing questions are a just a few of the problems being tackled by the recipients of this year’s round of grants from the Marsden Fund – New Zealand’s largest ‘blue skies’ research funding body. Announced this week, a total of 109 research projects have been allocated $59 million of funding in this year’s Marsden Fund grants.

The Marsden fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the government, is the hallmark of excellence in research.

As described on the Royal Society website: “Marsden Fund research benefits society as a whole by contributing to the development of researchers with knowledge, skills and ideas. The research is not subject to government’s socio-economic priorities, but is investigator initiated. The Fund supports research excellence in science, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities.

Of the 1157 preliminary proposals received, 229 were asked to submit a full proposal with 109 ultimately funded, giving a success rate of 9.4%. All of the funded proposals are for three years. For a full list of recipients, see the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 2013 Marsden Awards.

Marsden Fund Council chairperson Professor Juliet Gerrard was impressed at the quality of the applicants and pleased to be able to fund more projects than in previous years.

“The huge enthusiasm of New Zealand researchers to engage in basic research means the Fund is always oversubscribed, but this year we were able to fund a larger number of projects from across the country thanks to the increase in government funding. New Zealand produces researchers that are of the very highest calibre and their Marsden-funded research is highly respected internationally. The extra projects will enable more great ideas to be put to the test and showcase New Zealand science on a world stage.”

The funded projects have already received wide media coverage. Examples include:

Dominion Post: Former Priest Gets $760,000 To Study Religious Values
Radio NZ: Marsden Fund grants announced
Otago Daily Times: University of Otago Marsden Fund recipients
Newstalk ZB: Marsden fund money allocated
NZ Herald: New projects to receive funding from Marsden Fund
The Press: Marsden Fund Canterbury University Research
Otago Daily Times: Sex changes in fish study earns funding

Several institutional press releases also highlighted the funding announcements:

New Zealand Government, Massey UniversityUniversity of Canterbury, University of Auckland, Victoria University Wellington and University of Otago